Climbing in Skaha Penticton BC

We arrived in Penticton late in the afternoon after passing the US Border in Ossoyos. Loaded with good American Sierra Nevada Pale Ale beers, we stopped at Skaha Lake to meet our buddy Tom for a few days of climbing. The weather was sunny and hot
upon arrival so we quickly went for a dip in Skaha Lake then we headed to Banbury campground on the lake to set basecamp
and drink some cold beers.
It was a clear and warm night. Thinking that tomorrow's weather will be a stellar climbing day. But the next morning, the
winds had picked up gushing up to 70 km/hr. The temps were still warm but the wind made climbing feel like Alpine style.
The next day, rain arrived and got freezing cold. " What happen to sunny skaha weather!"
We heard Vancouver had lost electricity for several hours and winds were blowing at 100 km/hr along the coast.
Penticton was in the middle of the jet stream, so we were getting the tail end of it. We still got some good climbing in
at Doctor's wall - ( one of the best wall, steep enough not to get wet ) and thanks to our friend Josh, a super strong
climber, put up some hard routes for us to do laps on. Even colder then yesterday, it really felt like being in the Alpine.
Thinking the weather had moved in and climbing was over, we woke up the next morning under a clear blue sky. The
Skaha sunshine was back. We climbed a couple more days until our fingers were done. Bianca got to lead her first climb.
Tom needed to get back home to Golden and we wanted to check out a few wineries before heading up to Jasper in the
It was hard to leave as it felt like summer again knowing that the Rockies would be cold...

Bianca on Minor Squirmish - 5.10b

Tom warming up on Minor Squirmish 5.10b

Our Basecamp... The Silver Rocket Luxury suite.

Morning stretches...

Not a bad spot to wake up to and eat your cereals.

Where's Waldo! Tom blending in the decor on Logan's Run on the Great White Wall.

Sun tanning time.... Tom on Belay.

Bianca pulling down on 5.11b ... Test of the Ironman.

Tom under a bright blue sky at Grassy Glades wall.

Ponderosa pine tree.

Doing laps on Building a monkey - 5.12a

Little technical belay problems. Or just having fun at the Doctor's wall on a rainy day.

Bianca doing her first lead climb.


another lead...

Campground wildlife, or more like Bianca's new friend. The next morning, Mr. Duck was waiting outside our van for Bianca
to come hang out.

cooling down under the stars on the lake

Wedgemount - Whistler BC

Mission.... North ridge of Wedgemount.

After a few stops for food supplies and a bottle of wine and beers, we drove up the silver rocket to Whistler.
Our big objective was to climb the North ridge of Wedgemount; a classic must do mountaineering route with
great exposure and easy difficulty. So we loaded our heavy packs and headed up
the steep - 7 km - 3 1/2 hour long trail...

RE - Hydrating time...

Almost there

Timing was right ... arriving on top for sunset.

We got to our camping spot right on time to see the sunset. Good timing, so were the giant flies and mosquitos!

Full moon raising. - 7:50pm

Coffee time
We set the iphone alarm for 2 am. Already awake from alpine excitement... couldn't really sleep.
I awoke instantly to brew coffee, Bianca was in absolutely no rush to get out of her sleeping bag.
She had never been on an alpine mission - which means getting up at 2 am! When setting the
alarm before going to bed, she thought I was kidding....

We took our time getting ready under the bright lit sky from the moon and the stars were shining
as well. A perfect Alpine sky!
Finally we set off towards the glacier, a 20 min walk from our camp. It was bright enough to
walk along the lake without our headlamps. But not bright enough to make us miss a cairn
indicating the trail sending us scrabbing over some boulders and having to cross a river flow where falling
would have been the end of the night and climb! - We didn't realize we had wasted all this time until
we came back down in daylight. ( and saw the trail )

Time to put on our harness and crampons adjustment

Off we go on the glacier.

It's an ok view coming up the snow slope.
It was Bianca's first time ever walking on a glacier with crampons. To make the experience
even better!!! we decided to go with approach shoes and not boots! Bianca didn't have
any boots and to borrow some, she risk having blisters if the fit isn't perfect. Our friend
Damien ( an extremely well experience climber ) told us that approach shoes would do the
trick, he lent us his super light weight crampons to make us feel even more " Euro style climbers"

Break time.

Bianca's crampons were slightly bit loose, making the steep slope climb more exciting
the she needed to be. After an hour slogging up a steep snow couloir, we could finally
take our crampons off for a while and walk on dry rock.

Packing up the rope.

Sunrise on North Arete of Wedge.

The sun rose as we got to the Col of Lesser Wedge, the wind was blowing lightly and
quickly gave us the chill after sweating on the way up. We Sat in the sunshine trying to
shelter from the wind admiring the amazing view surrounding us. As we sat there feeling the warm sun on our skin.
Looking up directly at the North Ridge. The snow was soft and the route looked exposed and steep. I had
climb the route over 10 years ago with my buddy Dan. I didn't quite remember how it looked until now, looking
at it closely, there was no way that I would take Bianca up the expose ridge for her first time experience - even
less with her now wet approach shoes. We agreed on turning around, happy to have come up to the Col to greed
the first sun rays of the day. We sat a little while longer in the sunshine then made our way back to the lake the
same way we had come up.

Ski booting down the snow slope without crampons

Heading back down.

Melting Glacier

Foot of the Wedge Glacier... shrinking every year.

back to a perfect trail.

Nap time in the sunshine.

Bianca catching some last rays with a view.

Good bye sunshine, thank you for another beautiful day. - see ya tomorrow.

While I was filling up our water bottles near our tent. Two guys were walking back down wearing their
climbing harness and helmets. I quickly recognized one of them. While we were coming down a rock band,
they were climbing up the snow couloir we had previously climbed earlier. It was 9:30 am, I asked them
if they were going to climb the North Ridge. " ya ya, he told me in a strong french Canadian accent.
" You guys are pretty late" - I said - " it's going to be hot up there! snow will get bad and it's pretty exposed!"
"Ya ya, it's ok" he told me. Be Careful I said and wished them a good climb....

Now ... one of the guys had his harm all wrapped up in a bloody giant band aid. " You ok man!" I asked the
dude tripping along the trail with his heavy boots. " ya ya, I just add a small slip " he says in his strong frenchy
"That was you guys we met up there! I told you it was getting warm.... Lucky you didn't fall off the mountain! "
"ya ya ... it - was - OK ... not too bad " his buddy told me.
"What the hell happen to your harm!" I asked as he continued walking.
"Oh, noting- hey - I just slip and my ice Ax poke me in my harm - hey - (you mean punctured threw your harm!)

The next morning while chatting with another guy at the shelter hut. I told him about the guy who punctured his
harm with his axe. He told me another story about another guy... ( who we also saw going up too late with frenchy team)
slip, wearing shorts! on snow... scrapped his knees and legs to almost bare bones.....

- We were glad with our decision of coming back down safely and without scaring the living crap out of Bianca
on her first mountain experience. Never take the mountains lightly, even on a perfect sunny day...
the mountain can say no to you.
Even thou we didn't have the proper foot wear to climb to the summit. I was happy to have followed my gut feeling and not
push it further. The mountain will always be there, but you have to stay alive to appreciate it!